Madrid 2nd Round Interview

Q. Safe to say you’re feeling much more comfortable now on the clay after today.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, it’s definitely nice to get another win today. It’s a little bit of a different opponent and different style of play against someone that I had to be very patient.
I knew maybe she wasn’t going to hit a crazy amount of winners, but she would stay in the point and make me work for it. She does exactly that. We just played a couple months ago, but I think she much prefers the clay courts where she can get a few more balls back and make it a little bit more physical.
I just wanted to make sure I was focused on those last few hits.

Q. How different is it defending a tournament? You’ve obviously won so many. Is it just another regular tournament to you now?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not really. It was the first time that I’ve won it. Every year I was getting a little bit closer. The year before I had gone to the final.
So it was actually more special because it was a very tough final that I played. When you win a title and the momentum goes back and forth so many times during a match and becomes so physical in the end that just one of you could be the winner, you’re just so happy to be that one standing on the podium with the winner’s trophy.
You obviously gain all those memories back when you’re out there. When you step back on the court, even from the time that you’re practicing, you are able to relive some of those moments.
I definitely don’t take my titles for granted. I know how hard you have to work to get to a position to earn one, so I can never just think it of as another day. I really appreciate it and I really work to try to get it again.

Q. Is Miami injury completely in the past, and have you been able to train how you want to since?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I mean, I definitely started much later than I had hoped I would. I wasn’t really sure what I had in the beginning, so took a little bit of a while to figure out what it was.
Maybe Miami wasn’t the smartest decision, as I kind of started feeling it just a few days before and wasn’t getting much better, which usually it does.
So something that just I guess took some time, as I had some other things going on as well. I think I just started training the day I was supposed to arrive in Sochi.
But last week was really the first proper week of solid six days of just tennis, fitness, sleep, and nothing else.
Really just focused on that rather than trying to get treatments all over the place.

Q. What do you think exactly failed from your opponent, Duque Marino, in this match?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, I can only look at it from my side. It was really important for me to be aggressive, because she’s someone that when you give her time, she creates angles, slices. I think she usually dropshots a lot more than she dropshotted in the match. She has the hands and the ability to do so.
But I know if I have a deep, good pace on my ball, that that will be very hard for her to do. That was one of the things I really wanted to focus on. It wasn’t about hitting winners, but being consistent with depth and looking for my opportunities to move forward.

Q. You said recently that WTA ranking is not your concern. It’s not so important. It’s more important how you feel on the court. Is it from the distance a fight distance, a fight between you and Simona Halep? Now she’s gone and you will become again No. 2.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: To be honest, I don’t even know what the standings are between her losing and what I have to do in order to get that back. I face the ranking questions every single week obviously because ranking is a big part of the sport.
At this stage of my career, and I’ll say it again, it’s not my main purpose and my main goal. I always know that if I’m not ready to beat someone towards the later stage of a tournament, then I’m not ready to beat them from the very beginning.
Just because you beat a player that’s 1 or 2 in the world doesn’t win you the championships. My goal is to win championships.

Q. Gulbis recently talked about top players in general?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know where this is going, but can’t be any good. (Laughter.)

Q. Top players can intimidate lower players with your presence. Do you feel that when you stride into a room and everyone is looking at you? Do you feel that you’re intimidating?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Just because I’m tall maybe, but not because of anything else. I’m actually usually one of the few that’s very shy in the room, so I definitely don’t see it that way.
I think obviously I’ve worked really hard to gain kind of a position where people know how I can play and know I’ll be that player that will never give up. I think that sometimes is intimidating because they know they have to work extremely hard to finish the match.
I always feel that’s a good position to be in, but it doesn’t make me on any higher podium than anyone else in the room.

Q. Do you feel any more pressure to defending titles? You have to defending in Germany; you lost early. Now you have to defending here and you have to defend Roland Garros. Do you feel more pressure when you have to defend these titles?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think there is always something extra on the line. I know I didn’t defend Germany this year, but I defended it two times before.
And the years previously at Roland Garros, I’ve been a finalist for the last three years.
So I think my results speak for themselves. I don’t really need to talk about it.
But I think defending a championship, there is always something extra because you know how well you did to get to the position to hold the trophy. You really want to accomplish that again.
But I never compare any years, because every single year and situation is different and you’re facing different players. On any given day anything can happen.
So you always have to think that you’re starting from scratch, no matter what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Q. How is your mentality since the start of the year? Obviously you’ve been injured. Are you feeling less confidence or more confidence going towards the French Open?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Compared to last year?

Q. No, compared to the start of the year. You got injuries; lost in first round in Germany. Has that affected your confidence in any way?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I think obviously confidence is a big part of the sport. It’s very difficult to gain confidence and very easy to lose confidence. It’s kind of like that secret formula in every sport, not just in tennis.
For every athlete, when they’re confident, it’s really magical what they can do. So much of our sport is mental. Any sport really.
Of course when you have some challenges and you find yourself losing a couple matches, of course you always think about it a little bit more.
At the end of the day, it’s the work and kind of the positive mindset that gets you through. I know if I put the work in I’ll have to work through some matches and I’m going to have tough days and matches where I come out being the loser that day, but I know that overall in the bigger picture, I’m going in the right direction.